Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Endurance Racing and Turbo Sliders

While the work for my new site's look is still in progress, the new season of FIA World Endurance Championship has just kickstarted with the 6 Hours of Silverstone race with the #7 Audi driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer won the race, but the six-hour race also did deliver its set of actions including the battle between the race-winning Audi and #18 Porsche mid-race. Tension rised in other classes too as position fights took place many times especially in the GTE classes. The downside however was the #77 GTE-Am Porsche to which I had to address as "Team Dempsey" for that matter as the team didn't seem to get their pace in the race. Technical-wise, John Hindhaugh pointed out that, in LMP1, the Audi tops the "twisties" (read: tight turns) while the Porsche aces the straights.

Sometime in the middle of the race I left the Twitter-verse for awhile for what I can call as "The Experiment". The experiment in question was replicating 6 Hours of Silverstone race in Turbo Sliders, using the new F1 Speed League mod featuring cars from FIA WEC, 24 Hours of Le Mans and European Le Mans, among others, which I showed on Twitter as the race was still going on. Of course, the track is also F1SL-made, and, you guess it, it is indeed F1SL's Silverstone I raced. Despite the execution, I have prepared the AI lines long before this experiment is started, but with only the AI lines, cars and track required to run the experiment, one question prevailed: Is it enough to replicate the said race?


Note the "AIRec" text on the upper right corner of the screen.

Turbo Sliders definitely isn't GTR2 or the like in which it allows for multi-class racing. However, in exchange, Turbo Sliders provides cars of different, user-editable physics which makes up for that, but when life gives you lemons and you've selected a variety of cars with different physics and directly hit that "Local Game" menu, the game won't allow such a desire to realize; "BestCarProb" parameter in the aiplayers.dat defines the AI player's probability to pick the BEST car whose racing lines are already defined in the track's *.lap file. For that matter, you won't get a race you wanted...

Speaking about AI lines, for custom-made tracks, adding AI lines is possible by right-clicking the game's shortcut menu (copying the shortcut is advised), click on "Properties" and add the parameter "-airecord 1" after the shortcut's location on the Target text box. Done right, with "AI Player Fill" set to 0, will yield you the "AIRec" text on the upper right side of your screen in the race. Please note that when recording AI lines this way, your first lap won't count to the final output which is a * file.

For the car selection problem, the only workaround to yield different, user-assigned cars is to run a "Network Game" instead of a normal "Local Game" and use the command "/aicar [playernumber] [carname]". For some reason though the /aicar parameter doesn't work with cars which names contain spaces, but the solution for that is to make sure that you put the quotation mark first to the car's name in question i.e., /aicar 1 "My Car Name".

Technicality-wise, you can manage all those stuffs mentioned easily if you plan to make a fun race with the AIs with the selected cars you desire. However, gameplay-wise, you won't be satisfied with the result; AIs in TS aren't programmed to avoid colliding into each other, such that when running a multi-class race, the faster car will bump the backmarker if it were to overlap the latter. The AIs aren't programmed to enter pits for tire change, refueling and damage repairs either, so does drafting as they would avoid drafting into each other, let alone hoping that those elements would affect the AIs. This is no MiniRacingOnline, but if only there is a tool to allow AIs to do so...


How one envisions the right use of AIs...

power79 came up with the idea of the Turbo Sliders Bots project which allows the AIs to minimize, if not completely avoid, collision rates between each other, drive clean and fast laps and pit for refueling and stuff. Each progress, in a form of race recordings, showcases the changes applied to the application throughout its development. It started out as an effort to have smarter and better AIs, with the first test showcases the AIs' ability to pit, and then the project improves with pit strategies, obstacle avoiding, driver aggression, and different car choices. Speaking of car choices, which is vital for the experiment to work, power79 states that the project will automate such a process, so it will save more time without having to rely on the /aicar command, that is if there are different car properties.

The project also relies on the offline connection using localhost ( as it is the only way the project works. This is to ensure that the bots need fast updates from the server and they can't drive properly at online servers where updates would be much slower. However, the project aims to make sure that this also works in online games, but for the exact date for the open online race against the bots is still to be announced.

The latest race record (last page on the thread) sees what I came across as an "interesting" showcase; the bots somehow drive more *ahem* "humanly" with occasional mistakes and rear contacts. Sadly though there won't be a parameter whether the bots would make mistakes or not because power79 himself said that all mistakes are unintentional; they are just a bug where cars can't find the way to pass slower cars for some reason. Most mistakes in the recordings come from passing attempts and bad speed control during them. It is a shame though that he doesn't plan to include damage (with the recent recordings replaced damage with tire wear) as it would complicate the bots' pit strategy which is already quite difficult to optimize. With damage, the experiment would be a total blast, but for now, things have taken a really good approach.


The Project's logo, embodying the spirit of Le Mans-style racing.

Basically, I came up with this after playing Real Racing 3's event The 500, in which is loosely inspired by FIA WEC and pits you to get the Aston Martin Vantage GTE if you complete all the challenges in 10 days. In The 500, the championship races take place in Silverstone, Spa Francorchamps, Suzuka, Barcelona and finally Circuit de la Sarthe, while the others are events between each race. In this series, however, I decided to also add Circuit of the Americas as the American leg of the series as the Indianapolis and Laguna Seca events in The 500 are off the championship calendar. The philosophy behind the 360 is that all races bar La Sarthe are run for approximately one hour of racing time (60 seconds times 60), which is quite a long duration for a single TS race. The number of laps for each race is based on the average laptime enough to fit the one hour mark. Initially, I only limited this series for GTE cars only to further the RR3 reference, but somehow I wanted to have LMP1s and LMP2s racing at the same time. As expected, the series aims to replicate endurance racing, specifically Le Mans-style endurance racing, to Turbo Sliders. The full calendar will be as follows:

  1. Silverstone Circuit (5.891 km) - 71 Laps
  2. Circuit de Spa Francorchamps (7.004 km) - 78 Laps
  3. Suzuka Circuit GP (5.807 km) - 84 Laps
  4. Circuit of the Americas (5.515km) - 67 Laps
  5. Circuito Barcelona GP (4.655 km) - 73 Laps
  6. Circuit de la Sarthe (240 Minutes of Le Mans) -  300 Laps; 50 Laps x 6 continuous stints (Day - Evening - Night x2 - Morning - Day)

As this is an endurance event and it requires an authentic endurance racing nuance, the series will also unleash power79's Turbo Sliders Bots project which allows AI players to cleanly overtake and/or avoid crashing into each other and pit for refueling, tire changes and repairs, putting the application to a total test and harnessing its full potential. Cars used in the series will be basically all LMP1, LMP2 and GTE cars included in the pack but as I can't put them all in one grid I limited the selections for each category based on the car's model as follows:


Audi R18 e-tron quattro Hybrid
Toyota TS040 Hybrid
Porsche 919 Hybrid
Rebellion R-One-Toyota
Lotus LMP1 Lola B12/60*

* = older F1SL mod car


Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 03-Nissan
Signatech Alpine-Nissan
HVM Status GP Lola B12/80-Judd
Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan
DKR Engineering Lola B11/40-Judd

LMGTE (2 cars each)

Ferrari 458 Italia LMGTE / #54 & #71
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE (2014) / #91 & #92
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE / #95 & #98
SRT Viper GTS-R LMGTE / #91 & #93
Chevrolet Corvette C6.R ZR1 LMGTE / #70 & #74

Currently there are no further things to be presented other than the announcement of this project. The only thing I am looking forward to is the release of the Turbo Sliders Bots project which can allow everyone to enjoy Turbo Sliders even further in case they are bored with the current AIs. But for now, enjoy F1SL's  2014 mod pack here, featuring Formula 1, LMP1, LMP2, LMGTE, GT3, DTM and Touring cars and tracks, plus F1SL's originals!


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